According to WLOX, 34-year-old Markita ‘Kiki’ McIntyre, a mother of three, passed away during a sleeve gastrectomy surgery in the Mexican city of Tijuana. The weight-loss surgery McIntyre was undergoing when she died involves the removal of about 80% of the stomach. The bariatric surgery procedure reportedly costs between $16,000 and $18,000 in the United States but it is significantly cheaper in other countries.
In an interview with the news outlet, a friend of McIntyre, Francesca Moultrie, said she was also supposed to undergo the same weight-loss procedure as her friend but she later changed her mind. McIntyre, however, went ahead with the surgery.
“I talked to my friend throughout the entire process,” Moultrie recalled. “We talked every day, and she was asking questions every day in the group, so she was very knowledgeable.”
Prior to the surgery, Moultrie also said she had spoken with McIntyre and she was doing good. “I asked her how she was doing and she said she was ok,” Moultrie said. “I had posted something on Facebook and she laughed at it. I was going to talk to her after surgery around 2 or 3 p.m.”
That later turned out to be the last time Moultrie would speak to her best friend as she said McIntyre’s husband later called to inform her she had died. “It was very devastating,” Moultrie said. “I just want to be a voice for these women about surgeries. Y’all are getting these surgeries and they are not healthy, and they’re not good for your body. Don’t do it. It was a wake-up call.”
The Mexican border city of Tijuana is frequently thronged by Americans for plastic surgery and other procedures as the charges are cheaper compared to those back home. However, there have been multiple reports of citizens sustaining health complications after undergoing procedures there. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out a word of caution after it reported 11 American citizens had sustained antibiotic-resistant infections after undergoing weight-loss surgeries in Tijuana, WLOX reported.
However, Dr. Donald Balder, a general surgeon and founder of the Mississippi Institute of Weight Loss Surgery, told the news outlet he hasn’t heard of any bariatric surgery-related death in the United States.
“That’s extremely rare,” Balder said. “One of the problems with transiting surgery is obviously they might not have an appropriate work-up. So, there’s risks to it. But if you go to a seasoned surgeon, who’s done hundreds and thousands of cases, the risk goes down.”
Balder also advised people who have plans of traveling outside the country for such procedures to seriously think about the risks. He revealed doctors in Mexico usually don’t provide vital medical information to patients who undergo such procedures. He added that quite a handful of patients he has treated after they underwent bariatric surgeries in Mexico weren’t even put on the right medication.
“Highly stop and rethink your options,” he said. “We go and buy a car and we finance, and we don’t really rethink twice about financing it, right? But you’re going to go to another country, that might talk a different language, and you’re going to trust someone to do a surgery for a couple thousand dollars when you can finance your body for $10,000 or 12,0000, so I think they need to give it a second thought.”